'While they are a long way off from the box office muscle that the Khans enjoy, a host of young stars are entering the Rs 100 crore club that was earlier the reserve of the seniors. This year will see a lot of young stars in action.'
Aamir Khan as PK ruled the box office at the end of 2014 but the other two Khans, Shah Rukh and Salman, also exhibited their might last year.
With Happy New Year and Kick setting the cash registers ringing, 2014 was clearly the year when the Khans reclaimed their status as the sultans of cinema in India.
If 2014 belonged to the veteran Khans, 2015 may just be the year the newcomers of Bollywood make their presence felt.
The industry estimates almost Rs 400 crore will ride on releases featuring newcomers like Sushant Singh Rajput, Aditya Roy Kapur, Shraddha Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and more this year.
The Khans had four movies among them that cost Rs 445 crore and generated Rs 816 crore revenue.
Image: Ranbir Kapoor in Roy
The three leading men have thus delivered 83.4 per cent combined returns on investment on their movies in 2014. The majority of this return was due to Kick and PK, with the latter having yet another weekend at the movie halls.
"It has clearly been a year where the audiences have been very decisive in terms of content. It also showed you that Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan have irrefutable pull at the box office. The fact that Jai Ho performed below expectations may have shaken the trade's belief in Salman Khan for a while, but he bounced back with Kick. Film makers have to get smart now and dish out palatable content since audiences will not hesitate to reject a film, no matter the cast, as we saw with Action Jackson, Humshakals and even Jai Ho," says a box office analyst.
Leading the young pack in 2015 will be Ranbir Kapoor who had a quiet year with no releases in 2014. The actor will be seen four movies this year, Roy, Bombay Velvet, Jagga Jasoos and Tamashaa. While he is not exactly a newcomer, he is among the younger leading and analysts believe he will be the one to watch out for.
"He has a lot to redeem after the unsuccessful run of Besharam in 2013," says one such analyst.
Prabhat Choudhary, head of Spice, a film publicity and communication agency, says, "Year 2015 will see more monies riding on the young brigade of Bollywood because in 2014 their box office viability was proven. Sidharth Malhotra, Arjun Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt and Shraddha Kapoor had an extremely good year. While they are a long way off from the box office muscle that the Khans enjoy, a host of young stars are entering the Rs 100 crore club that was earlier the reserve of the seniors. This year will see a lot of young stars in action."
The year will kick off with Tevar from Eros International starring Arjun Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha.
The big studios will be seen backing the new stars. Fox Star will be putting its muscle behind Bombay Velvet and Yash Raj Films will produce Sushant Singh Rajput's Byomkesh Bakshi.
Varun Dhawan's Badlapur will be backed by Eros and his second release of the year ABCD 2 (also featuring Shraddha Kapoor) is from
Disney's UTV Spotboy brand.
Aamir Khan may be missing in action this year, but the audiences will get to see Salman Khan in Bajrangi Bhaijaan (Eros) and Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo (Rajshree and Fox Star). Shah Rukh Khan will reunite with the Yash Raj Films for his 2015 release, Fan.
Studio highlights for 2014
The Walt Disney Company, through Walt Disney Studios, UTV Motion Pictures and UTV Spotboy, and Viacom18 Motion Pictures dominated with healthy returns on investment.
Viacom18's success came through a conscious focus on making budgeted content-led movies. UTV dabbled with movies across content genres and budget scales.
"Looking back, for the Hindi film industry in general the hit ratio has been low. However, for us at Disney India, we have had a great year with a very high hit ratio which continued right through the last week of 2014. The audience is appreciating good content and strong character-driven movies. Movies that are high on story, concept and entertainment are continuing to perform well, So are movies with younger stars. This is a great trend," says Amrita Pandey, vice-president and head of marketing and distribution, studios, Disney India.
Ajit Andhare, chief operating officer, Viacom18 Motion Pictures, adds, "Year 2014 witnessed the steady triumph of content over mere star power at the box office, a trend that may not be a new phenomenon, but one that has seen higher frequency this year. In the pursuit of profitability, costs have to be rationalised for high investments are not a direct reflection of high returns. Engaged entertainment that collaborates with smart planning achieves for all stakeholders a profitable, more consistent movie experience."
Disney's return on investment on movies from the box office in 2014 was 125 per cent while Viacom18's was a staggering 177 per cent.
Viacom18 had two movies in 2014, both with female-centric themes, and the combined expenditure on the projects was Rs 45 crore. Disney's scale was much bigger with seven films ranging from the unconventional ones like Haider and Highway to "massy" ventures like Kick and PK. The studio spent an estimated Rs 340 crore on these films.
Image: Varun Dhawan in Badlapur
The year also marked the emergence of Fox Star Studios as an end-to-end studio with its ambitious action thriller Bang Bang. Starring Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif, the film did well at the box office, providing returns of 28 per cent.
The studio also went the way of content-led movies with films like Hawaa Hawaii, Citylights and Finding Fanny.
"Making Bang Bang has helped us gauge our strength in production and we are now ready to produce films that will be known for content as well as the visual spectacle. We have proven that we have one of the best marketing and distribution teams with films like Fanny and Bang Bang being talked about for their marketing achievements," says Vijay Singh, chief executive officer, Fox Star Studios.
The total box office collection for the year, however, was lower than in 2013.
Box office revenue decreased by 28 per cent from Rs 2,942 crore in 2013 to Rs 2,104 crore in 2014 across a comparable number of movies.